A Newcastle mental health service is seeking volunteers for a program that is helping patients who have been in the prison system to return to the community.
The centre’s Nadine Farrell says the forensic mental health patients are undergoing treatment at Morisset Hospital after spending many years in the prison system.
Ms Farrell says the program plays an important role in a patient’s recovery, but more volunteers are needed.
“We train volunteers to adequately support the consumers in their recovery journey,” she said.
“So we match up a couple of volunteers with a forensic consumer, and they will take them out, just to get used to being back in the community again.
“It’s about building social skills and for some people they’ve been in the system for a very long time.”
Ms Farrell says it is very successful and has proven a huge cost saving for the state government.
“Since it’s been running, there have been no abscondments from Morisset Hospital,” she said.
“So that’s a really good thing in itself, and although that’s because of the work done by Hunter New England Health, we believe we’ve had a very positive impact on the people out there.
“It is anecdotally saving the state government about $250,000 at the moment a year.”
This article first appeared on ABC Online on 5 November, 2013.